It was the April of 2008. The firm I was working had got a data entry project which required lot of manpower to finish the work within the dead line. I was in the training department then. Dhanasekar was my boss. He used to take trainings when, I and Richard, my best friend and colleague would take care of the doubts in the shop floor. We operated in shifts.
On that particular day, Dhanasekar was tensed as one of the guys who attended the first day training hadn’t turned up for the next day. Attrition during training period was strict no-no then. After an hour of coaxing the person turned up. He was a bit skimpy and manners not so polished. We were used to these kind of guys all the time. Dhanasekar was able to complete the training without much hiccups then on.
I was responsible for post training feedback, after filling up the forms, I asked the group if they had any doubts. The guy who came back to the training hesitantly raised his arm.
“Will you guys fire me if I don’t perform well?” his voice was bit shaky. He looked aged than the others in group. The question drew few giggles out of the group.
“No really. We are here to help you perform. You don’t have to worry about that.”
I got few updates about him as he was not attentive in the production time and all. But as far as my interaction with him, his attention to detail was perfect. Whenever I was struck with something and see no possible solutions, a quick chat with him made things clear. But he didn’t open up and I saw him depressed all the time. He built a glass wall between us which I was not able to penetrate at all. We could only smile at each other through the wall.
Things changed and I got promoted. He was the first one to wish me. I was given a separate room and I got busy with my new responsibilities. Once I saw him break down into tears in restroom. I’ve not felt comfortable at all when boys start crying. They do it privately.
“What happened Boss?”
“I knew I was not fit for the job, but I can’t handle the pressure. I am taking medicines for stress but it’s not helping me”
“Come on! This is nothing. Try some meditation.”
He didn’t say a word after that, left the room wiping his tears.
Lesson 1: Never underestimate depression. Take professional help.
I was periodically checking on him and he didn’t improve. I took him out for a coffee, where he didn’t talk at all. I tried to make some fun which he did not appreciate. I then decided that he has to take the hard pill, by pointing him people have bigger problem than his and they are still surviving.
Lesson 2: Never tell them that their problems are stupid or that there is nothing to worry about. They’ll stop talking.
I made these two mistakes. He never talked to me again. Except for few smiles now and then when we meet in restrooms or canteen, I had no interaction with him. But I found him saying things like “Wish it’s all over” or “I want to live in first place” which was not taken too seriously.
I woke up to the buzzing sound of my mobile in the middle of the night. I received a text that the person had attempted suicide. He had taken in 50 pills of anti-depression. Not before breaking his television set and other things in his house.
I do not dare to visit him in hospital. I could have helped him by just listening to him. He gave out very clear suicidal mentions which I ignored too easily. I never thought depression would drive people to this extent to kill themselves. Of course, I have talked thousand times about killing myself, but it always passed away.
We take care of our physical health by periodical check ups and all. Do we really care about our mental health? How do we know we are mentally stable and will not attempt any such things for ourselves? There are thousands of questions. But I wonder will there be any real answer.